Why Does My Cat Keep Hiding? Should I be Worried?

Written by Shaunice Lewis
Updated: September 15, 2022
© Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com
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There are many different reasons why cats like to hide. Cats hide as a way for them to feel safe in their surroundings. They may also hide as a way to protect themselves from a situation that they perceive as dangerous to them. They can also choose to hide if they feel particularly stressed or anxious. Because there are so many reasons why a cat may choose to hide, it is important to make sure that you get to the root cause of their inclusiveness in order to rule out any illness or other potential issues. Read on to learn more about why cats hide and what you can do about it.

Is It Normal for Cats to Hide?

Cats tend to do a lot of things that may seem strange to us but are actually quite normal for them. Hiding occasionally is one of them. Cats love to hide in places as a way to seek comfort or to relax without being interrupted. Although it may be normal and nothing to worry about if it happens on occasion, if you find that your cat is hiding for prolonged periods of time, or on a regular basis, you may want to consider what may be the cause for it.

As mentioned above, there can be many reasons why a cat may choose to hide. It could be that the cat is frightened, or that it feels stressed or uncomfortable. Some reasons for discomfort could be that you have just moved into a new environment with your cat and it has not had to time adjust, or maybe you have introduced a new pet member of your family and your cat does not yet feel comfortable around the new animal. These things will usually resolve on their own as your cat becomes more comfortable with its new surroundings or as your cat gets used to its new playmate.

Let’s take a look at some other reasons why your cat may be hiding.

Anxiety

Your cat may be dealing with a form of anxiety if you notice that it hides for prolong periods of time. Anxiety in cats can also be caused by numerous external factors, some like the ones we’ve mentioned before. However, it can also one triggered by internal factors such as underlying health issues. Because of this, it is very important to have your cat receive regular health exams from the vet. This will help you become aware of any health issues that your cat may have been unknowingly suffering from. Some health issues can actually cause your cat to have anxiety so it’s important to have these things addressed. Getting your cat treated for its health issues may help reverse and relieve the anxiety that it was dealing with and in turn, reduce or eliminate the hiding behavior.

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Pregnancy

Another reason why your cat may be hiding could be that it is pregnant. When cats are pregnant it is common for them to exhibit changes in behavior. One of those changes includes hiding more often. During the final week of a cat’s pregnancy, she may begin hiding in quiet places around your home that she deems safe and secure. This is so that once the time comes, the cat will be safe and at ease during her delivery. If your cat is pregnant and you notice she begins to hide, this is normal behavior and nothing that should cause concern.

However, if your cat is hiding, as well as exhibiting signs of pain, discomfort, or aggression, you may want to take it to the vet to determine the underlying cause and be sure that there are no complications with the pregnancy if it is sooner than the expected due date. These behaviors could also be signs that your cat is going into labor.

Should I Allow My Cat to Hide?

If you know that your cat is not hiding due to health reasons, and one of the other reasons mentioned above such as being uncomfortable in a new environment, uncomfortable around a new pet, or pregnancy-related, then yes, allowing your cat to hide can be a good thing. This will allow your cat to have a comfortable place that it recognizes as “safe” to hide from whatever is causing it to feel stress at that moment. You should never try to remove your cat from its hiding spot against its will, as this could cause your cat to have more fear, anxiety, and stress as it feels it has nowhere safe to hide.

You can make your cat’s hiding place more comfortable by providing soft blankets it can lie on, or a by introducing a cat hut, to encourage it to hide there rather than in places that you feel aren’t safe even though your cat might think otherwise. If you have more than one cat, be sure to have a safe space for each one so that they don’t begin fighting over the dominance of the space—cats can sometimes be very territorial.

All cats, no matter their age can benefit from having a comfortable location away from others, especially those with small children, as cats can become overwhelmed by all of their love and affection. Elderly cats can suffer from achy joints and other pains that may require them to rest more often. In those situations a quiet space away from others is necessary.

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How to Reduce Stress for Cats

Even though you will have provided a safe place for your cat to retreat, it’s important that the issue of what caused their reclusive behavior is handled. After ruling out that their hiding was caused by an underlying health issue, there are a few ways that you can help your cat feel comfortable and reduce its stress. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can help reduce your cat’s stress:

Remove Overwhelming Scents and Sounds

Two of the most powerful senses cats have are their hearing and their sense of smell. Cats use these to help navigate and familiarize themselves with their environment (along with their other senses of course).

However, this means that certain scents and fragrances you may find appealing could be overwhelming for your cat. If you tend to use a lot of strong scents in your home from things like fragrance plug-ins, incense, or candles, you could be overwhelming your cat’s sense of smell.

They have very sensitive noses and some scents can irritate them and cause them stress—especially if they are unable to get away from them. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use your favorite scents around the house, just be sure that your cat has a place to go that is away from the fragrances or candles that are currently being used.

You’ll also want to consider if your home is regularly loud or if there are any loud sounds nearby that could be causing your cat to feel stressed. This could be anything from loud music, to nearby construction work. Try to reduce the noise inside your home or provide a place for your cat to go if it’s unavoidable.

Some ways to provide a soothing environment for your cat include things like playing soft, relaxing sounds, classical music, or white noise machines.

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Handle Your Cat Considerately

Every cat has different preferences when it comes to handling and expressing your love to them. What many people don’t realize is that the way you may be showing love to your feline friend could actually be causing them stress at times. Be sure that you pay attention to your cat’s body language when you’re giving your cat love so that you know if it feels comfortable or wants the attention at the moment.

There are some times when you have to handle your cat whether it wants you to or not, like when it’s time to trim their nails or take them on a trip to see the vet. In these cases, it is understandable that you may have to go against your cat’s wishes in order for them to cooperate with you. But through a process of gentle handling and positive reinforcement training, you can gradually reduce the amount of stress your cat feels with each of these events.

For example, you can reward your cat by giving it treats when it cooperates with you and gets inside of its cat carrier or after you’ve finished clipping its nails. If you begin rewarding your cat for doing the things it finds stressful, over time it may even begin to look forward to them.

Provide Fun, Interactive Toys

Another thing you can do to help reduce your cat’s stress is to provide fun, interactive toys for it to play with. This can help distract your cat from whatever is causing it to feel stress, and provide a fun outlet. It can also be helpful to get your cat adjusted to a new household pet faster, as they may begin playing together. Having fun toys for your cat to play with may also help lure your cat from its hiding spot—especially if the toy contains catnip (which is almost irresistible for many cats).

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The Featured Image

Cat hiding under furniture
Cats hide for a variety of reasons, including relaxing without being disturbed.
© Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How long do cats hide after moving to a new home?

Cats can hide for about 1 or 2 days after you move into a new home, until they are more comfortable with their new environment.

Should I let my cat hide if it is scared?

If a cat is scared, you should allow it to hide. Be sure that it is in a comfortable location and do not force them to come out.

Why do cats hide in dark places?

Cats may tend to hide in places that are dark like under the bed, in a closet, or in a box. They do this as it tends to feel safer and more comfortable.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Guildcrest Cat Hospital, Available here: https://guildcrestcathospital.ca/cat-labor/
  2. BatterSea, Available here: https://www.battersea.org.uk/pet-advice/cat-advice/why-my-cat-hiding
  3. Humane Society, Available here: https://www.humanesociety.org/news/keeping-cats-stress-free